Leading Countries? Costs? Trends? Learn some quick facts about solar energy here
Interesting Facts About Solar Energy
Ready to learn some quick facts about solar energy? Here we go! You'll find much more detailed information about solar energy in the links below the article if you want.
Solar energy is better for the environment than traditional forms of energy because it does not create green house gases resulting from the burning of fossil fuels to generate energy
Solar energy can be collected in collectors and then stored in batteries after it is converted to direct current so it can be used when needed, even at night or on a rainy day.
Solar energy is currently more expensive than energy generated with fossil fuels but with technologies such as concentrated solar power the costs are coming down and are becoming more competitive with traditional energy generating processes.
Solar energy is becoming more and more popular for reasons of cost, climate change and global legislation and pressure.
Worldwide photovoltaic (solar power used for electricity) installations increased by 5.9 GW in 2008, up from 2.8 GW installed during the previous year, that is some 110%. In 1985, annual solar installation demand was only 21 MW, so it definitely increasing.
On average, solar energy demand has grown 30% annually in the past 15 years. (So 110% in 2008 is very high.)
While Japan used to account for some 50% of total solar demand globally, Europe accounted for 82% of world demand in 2008. Spain's 285% growth pushed Germany into second place in the market ranking, while the US advanced to number three. Rapid growth in Korea allowed it to become the fourth largest market, followed by Italy and Japan.
Cumulative solar energy production however, still accounts for less than 0.01% of total global primary energy demand.
The CEO of Standard Renewable Energy, John Berger, predicted in November 2009 that solar power will become competitive already during the next decade. The reason is a surge in worldwide manufacturing capacity, bringing down the price of solar panels sharply.
Sharp price declines are very good news for the two billion people in the world who still don't have access to electricity. For most of them, solar power would be their cheapest electricity source, but they cannot afford it.
Solar energy is measured in kilowatt-hour. 1 kilowatt = 1000 watts. So 1 kilowatt-hour (kWh) is equal to the amount of electricity required to burn a 100 watt light bulb for 10 hours.
Fossil fuels are fundamentally forms of solar energy. Coal, oil and gas formed hundreds of millions of years ago from decomposing plants. Plants grow using the light from the sun which is also called "photosynthesis".
Did you know that solar energy is dependent on nuclear power? The solar energy nuclear power plant, though, is 93 million miles away. Guess where? ;-)
Leonardo Da Vinci first planned the use of industrial solar power by employing concave mirrors to heat water during his years working at the Vatican. Most of Da Vinci's incredible inventions, including a helicopter, tank and calculator, were not built during his lifetime.
A world record was set in 1990 when a an aircraft flew 4060km across the United States of America with solar power and no other fuel. The trip did howver require 20 stops along the way and took 121 flying hours.
In September 2007 and again in August 2008, the Anglo-US company QuinetiQ flew non-stop 54 hours, then 83 hours 37 minutes, with its drone Zephyr (27 kg, wingspan 12m), at altitudes of 18 000m. The plane was unmanned. In July 2010, a new solar aviation world record was set when Solar Impulse's Andre Borschberg piloted a solar-powered aircraft with a wingspan of 64 metres on a non-stop flight lasting more than 26 hours.